Confirming Multiplex RT-qPCR Use in COVID-19 with Next-Generation Sequencing: Strategies for Epidemiological Advantage

Carpenter, R. E., Tamrakar, V., Chahar, H., Vine, T., Sharma, R.
Publication date
July 30, 2022
Global Health, Epidemiology, and Genomics
PubMed Central
Rapid identification and tracking of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants are critical for understanding the transmission dynamics and developing strategies for interrupting the transmission chain. Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) is an exceptional tool for whole-genome analysis and deciphering new mutations. The technique has been instrumental in identifying the variants of concern (VOC) and tracking this pandemic. However, NGS is complex and expensive for large-scale adoption, and epidemiological monitoring with NGS alone could be unattainable in limited-resource settings. In this study, we explored the application of RT-qPCR-based detection of the variant identified by NGS. We analyzed a total of 78 deidentified samples that screened positive for SARS-CoV-2 from two timeframes, August 2020 and July 2021. All 78 samples were classified into WHO lineages by whole-genome sequencing and then compared with two commercially available RT-qPCR assays for spike protein mutation(s). The data showed good concordance between RT-qPCR and NGS analysis for specific SARS-CoV-2 lineages and characteristic mutations. RT-qPCR assays are quick and cost-effective and thus can be implemented in synergy with NGS for screening NGS-identified mutations of SARS-CoV-2 for clinical and epidemiological interest. Strategic use of NGS and RT-qPCR can offer several COVID-19 epidemiological advantages.